Designing the Energy Level of your Song

by Gary Ewer, from “The Essential Secrets of Songwriting” website:

When writing songs, the most important aspect of energy to realize is that it isn’t a constant force; it changes from moment to moment. It’s a bit like the wind in that respect. On a windy day, we usually can notice that the wind speed is either increasing or decreasing, rarely hitting us with the same velocity from moment to moment. In your songs, the energy is usually either increasing or decreasing, and not usually something that remains constant or static. How you craft that energy will often determine if people want to keep listening to your song. Here are some quick tips for you to consider:

i. In general, the energy level of your song should increase as the song progresses, but you need to allow the energy to diminish a little at certain moments. If it is a basic verse – chorus – verse format, you’ll want to allow the energy to come down after the first chorus. That helps set things up for the next chorus, bridge, and final chorus.

ii. Verse 2 needs to have at least as much energy as verse 1, and probably more.

iii. Use instrumentation, dynamics (loudness) and rhythm to control energy levels. Increasing the number of instruments at any given moment usually increases energy. Louder music is usually more energetic than softer music, and increasing rhythmic complexity, whether melodically or in the background accompaniment, will also increase energy. So even if your band is a simple guitar – bass – drums accompaniment, there is much you can do to craft the energy.

iv. Energy is a relative force. An energetic song that establishes and maintains a high energy level all the way through can unfortunately be ineffective. It’s better to allow a song to have moments of low energy in order to make the more energetic moments really sparkle.

v. Generally, a bridge should have a higher energy level than a previous chorus. But if your song is a high-energy song, the bridge can be very effective if you choose that moment to allow the energy to dissipate, then gather steam for the final chorus.

Keep in mind that energy is not a constant force. It is a fluctuating element that needs to be carefully controlled in order to make your song most effective. The less the number of instruments in your band, the more danger there is that the energy will become too static. Small bands need to think about varying loudness and rhythmic accompaniment

Gary’s newest e-book, “The Essential Secrets of Songwriting- Chord Progression Formulas” is being offered for free when you purchase any other of his songwriting e-books. Read more..

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